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Hi there, glad I finally found a forum that has soundtrack music genre composers.

I've always had problems mixing and mastering as I do not really understand EQ and compression (I believe these are used to master a track). Anyways, I will start off with the easy question.

I'm using Fruity Loops Studio for my compositions and my main plugins are Stormdrum, Nexus and Miroslav Philharmonik.

My first question is with regards to a track I just finished. I'm hoping it can be a reference for future work in terms of mixing/mastering. In the track, I use piano, drums, cello, violin, cello stacc and choir. What I want to know is which is suppose to be louder and lower, for instance, should the cello be lower in volume and violin louder, etc. Is there like a general formula for it? I know there is one for beat making as that's all I'm able to find on youtube.

My second question is with mastering. I know it is a very subjective thing, but since I don't know the basics, is there any good articles or material that are easy to read for someone without knowledge on music theory?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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I'm sure someone more qualified and experienced than me will answer you soon, but here's my advice, for what it's worth.

There is no "formula." Mixing is done by ear, so as with anything else in music you'll have to trust yours. The only "formulaic" things I've ever heard are:

1) You mixed the snare too loud

2) Too much reverb

I would suggest downloading a trial of a program like Ozone (made by izotope) and looking at the presets. See how the sound changes when you turn them on and off, and play around with the different tools available.

Oh, and just focusing on making a good mix. The better the mix, the less mastering required.

Hope this helps somewhat.

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Hey, there. In my experience, mixing is much more of an art than a science. Here are some rules of thumb that I use as a starting point (many of which probably seem obvious):

1) The focus of the song --- the instrument or voice carrying the melody --- should be in the front of the mix (i.e., louder).

2) I start out mixing everything in mono (no panning). Panning obscures competing frequencies that become obvious in mono.

3) Minimize competing frequencies so each track has its own space. A bass drum and a bass guitar have several overlapping frequencies and can muddy your composition. If I want the kick drum to thump, I'll reduce the lower thumping frequencies on the bass guitar track. If I want the kick drum to pop, I'll reduce the lower thumping frequencies on the kick drum and let the bass guitar carry the lower frequencies. The same concept applies to stuff like acoustic guitar v. electric guitar, etc.

4) After minimizing competing frequencies, give each track its own space by panning. I tend to put kick drum, snare, bass guitar, and the focus (vocal/melody instrument, etc.) down the middle. I'll pan most other tracks (e.q., piano left, guitar right, harmony vox 1 left, harmony vox 2 right, tom 1 left, tom 2 center, tom 3 right, etc.).

Your question asked which should be louder and which should be lower. In my experience, if you follow the steps above, each track will have its own space and can be heard without drastic differences in volume.

I have attached a video that does an excellent job of explaining the mastering process.

http://therecordingrevolution.com/2012/06/25/mastering-tips-from-engineer-and-educator-craig-anderton/

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@SwadianFC I don't generally use reverb and I'm still trying to learn FL Eqs which I heard are not that bad. I will probably end up looking into Ozone i've heard it's very good for mastering? Either way, thanks for sharing.

@jackjresq Very good advice. Good thing I just watched a video on frequencies before reading this or I would not have understood a word you said. I will use your tips as reference and will check out the video. Thank you, it's starting to make a little sense now or at the very least I can understand what is being said. Perhaps I will post my track here when I'm satisfied with tweeking it.

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If you would like, I would be more than happy to provide a second mix for you. It always amazes me how different mixes of the same song can sound so different.

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@jackjresq Yeah I would really appreciate that but how? Do I send you the .flp? are you using fruity loops as well? I just finished it, and my first attempt at mixing was not very satisfying.

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@Aesthele18: I don't use Fruity Loops. One option is to export each track as a separate .wav (preferably) or .mp3 file and either e-mail the tracks to me or upload them to my Dropbox account. I can then load each .wav file in my DAW and mix them.

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Either is fine with me but I'd prefer email. Could you send me a message with your email address or post it here if you don't mind. I'll have the tracks to you day after tomorrow, I won't have access to my computer tomorrow.

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@Dominus Vobiscum I don't understand, the sound of dial-up modem? as in the static sound? What is the relevance of it? I wanted to add more sounds but my RAM was acting up, so I had to make do.

I've already mixed the track to the best I can, I'll try your suggestion in the future. Thanks this will be helpful for my next track.

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Hey Aesthete18! Maybe it's late, but I would like to add three things:

> If you have the opportunity to ask a conductor about volume and balance, he/she will be able to give advice. Conductors are always "mixing" - so to say - those instruments when performing in different acoustic spaces without any electronic or digital aid.

> Find some record with the same instruments and with the kind of sound you want to achieve. Use it as a reference, comparing with your mix.

> It seems your music is all acoustic, maybe in a classic style, and it wouldn't be mixed as for example pop music. Try to do as little as possible as to effects. ( Regarding EQ's is best to only decrease on some frequencies which are disturbing.)

I wish you all success in your composing/producing!

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Hey Amatoren your advice on asking a conductor makes a lot of sense, I would not have thought of that thanks i'll keep that in mind. Also the tip on using a reference is a good idea, I'm trying but it's a little hard for me to pick apart the sounds, I always feel like I'm not hearing something. Maybe my ears are not trained yet but I'll keep at it. Thanks for the notes!

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